July: A Busy Break Away!

It feels like I haven't done much this month, or at least over a long period of time, but when I look back on the month I have managed quite a bit! One thing I missed out on last year was one of my favourite things to do; spending a few days away at my Grandad's house to spend quality time with him as well as exploring the Coniston area. Naturally, this was one of the weeks where I did a lot over a little period of time, so this blog will focusing just on my time at Coniston, and the other stuff I've done this month will be paired with August!

My mum kindly gave me a lift to my Grandad's house for my break away, and we took the opportunity to get a couple of walks in around the area before I was due to arrive. A classic for us is Yew Tree Tarn, so this day was no different. I thought the water levels were low at Yew Tree tarn on my last visit, but this time the exposed tarn bottom was beginning to crack it was that dry, and I could have walked further on this if I had dared - it hadn't been that dry that I was going to risk going out further in the middle! Its amazing how much just a few steps can change your perspective, walking on the edge of the tarns bottom makes the tarn seem much wider in all directions, and it also adds significant height to the fells that stand behind the tall trees. I was grateful to see this whole area in bloom, from bright colours on the flowers and tree buds to your classic evergreens appearing almost luminous in the sunshine. The treetops provided much needed shelter from the hot sun as we took a moment to sit down on the bench half way around the tarn to bask in the beauty of this glorious place!

Before arriving at my Grandad's, we also took advantage of me having my camera in tow and trudged up the small section of road up to the fell gate for Oxen Fell. Our last few visits here I only had my phone with me, and as good as those pictures are they just don't compare to my camera! I've also got into the habit of taking less photos on my phone, preferring to take videos now that I'm on TikTok sharing footage of my walks. I find it is the finer details in the views from Oxen Fell that make it so special, at first glance it may seem like a 'generic' Cumbrian fell range, but when you pay closer to attention you can see the finer details such as quarry workings amongst the piles of slate, the ring of trees hiding Hodge Close from view and now and again the surface of Elterwater broke out into sparkles when the sunshine hit it just at the right angle. I really love this place because no matter which direction you walk in, the view will be there to greet you in all of its magnitude. We haven't been up here much, but we already have given ourselves a designated spot on the top of Oxen Fell looking over Yew Tree Tarn and further onto the Eastern side of Coniston Water, this is a spot we seem to gravitate towards when exploring this area - but with views like that who can blame me! I did enjoy bringing my camera out to this area, but I think it'd make for much more interesting photos coming back around February/March time, like when our first visit was!

After settling down at my Grandads, we decided to make the most of the evening sunshine and get out for our first walk of my stay! It was just a little walk, but one with views that go on for miles! It's just 'along the level' in Coniston as my Grandad would say, a simple loop from his house up towards the bottom of the Old Man and Coniston Fell range which eventually connects to the old Railway line, but it gets those legs muscles moving on those steeper bits and the view of the lake grows with each step. I really enjoy doing this walk as it reminds me of being a child running up and down along the woods, finding the little caves that are scattered amongst the trees and the view of the Old Man standing proud against the blue sunshine. I had a feeling that this would be what I'd do with my time away, but seeing the Old Man that Sunday evening I just knew that I wanted to walk up it again whilst I was at my Grandads!

The next day, my grandad and I decided to go out for a nice morning walk, with plans for me to tackle the Old Man after lunch time. One of my most vivid childhood memories of when I used to stay with my grandparents in Coniston is walking to Tarn Hows from Monk Coniston, posing for a photo at the small waterfall just off the road and finding a walking stick hidden in the bushes which my Grandad let me take home. These fond memories in mind, we decided to retrace this walk many years on. The paths had seemed to change from both of our memories, and there wasn't much water in the falls due to damming over the years but the air still smelt just as sweet as it did all those years ago. It was quite quiet considering the glorious sun, and we only passed a couple of people before we rose up towards the tarn. I always forget how breath taking the views are from the top car park, over the Langdales and across to the Old Man - I knew I was definitely going for a walk up there today, it seemed to be calling out to me! Whilst wandering around the tarn, we detoured slightly to head to the small pond which lies just off the main tarn and is shrouded in trees and foliage which keeps it hidden from the general public and we were also able to take the time to hide away from the rapidly increasing heat of the morning.

As we reached the halfway point around the Tarn, and started making our way back on ourselves, the paths were much busier with people waking in the opposite direction to us. We were very lucky to go as long as we did without bumping into anyone - and of course this was a photographers dream! When we reached the head of the water, we could see some light brown Belted Galloways paddling at the edge of the water, and there was a wee baby with them! I love a good cute cow, so ran over to them with my camera and phone to get some pictures and videos... I hadn't realised that daddy cow was in company with the mum and baby, so I was in for a bit of a shock when he suddenly appeared! He soon realised I wasn't a threat though, and left me to get my videos and pictures! At this point the tarn was really beginning to fill with people, so we took the quieter path through the woods and back to the car, unfortunately we didn't find a walking stick this time!

As mentioned previously, the main event I wanted to do whilst at my Grandad's was to have a solo walk up the Old Man. When I have gone up as an adult, and in particular to do it with my grandad who I dub my own 'Old Man Of Coniston', I was greeted by thick fog and couldn't take in the amazing views that the top of the fell offers, so I was desperate to get up there with my camera! I didn't think I did too bad, I managed to get up to to the top within 2.5 hours, with over 1,000 photos taken on my camera at this point! It could have been much busier in this area given the stunning weather and how popular the walk is, but I had much of the area to myself or had only a few people in my photos, whom I was able to manoeuvre easily enough when lining up photos. I rested a couple of times before reaching Low Water, I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to the heat, so I did need a few rest breaks, but I always forget how high up Low Water actually is! It was nice to have a rest beside the water before ascending my final part of mountain, I was tempted to dig my feet in the water but I decided to save this for the way down, depending on how bus it was! It was nice when I reached the top of the Old Man as I started talking to some other walkers who had reached the top, and became an unofficial photographer for everyone wanting pictures with the cairns! I sat at the top for a little while, finishing on my lunch, having a well deserved brew from my flask and enjoying the views across Coniston Water and out towards the coast. It didn't take me long to get back down to my grandads, about 45 in minutes in fact, and this was helped when I spotted a cut through via the long grass ahead of me when I was looking down on the path from higher up! I love this walk, and cannot wait to be back up here to tick off some of the other Wainwrights up here!

When I woke up the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my legs hadn't given up the ghost after my full day yesterday so I could have another day exploring. My grandad was free that morning too, so we both decided to have a walk through the Coppermine valley and up to Levers Water as I have yet to explore that section of the fells with my camera! My grandad lives just below the Coppermines, so we meandered up from behind the hotel and made our way towards Miners Bridge. I've seen some amazing photos of this bridge, and as much I'd have loved to take my own spin on the bridge, I soon realised that the phenomenal photos I had seen were obviously taken from along the streams edge, and I didn't fancy clambering down there with my dodgy knee! We continued on our way, passing along the row of houses before we begun on the track towards Levers. Upon reaching the bottom of the waterfall, my Grandad sent me up the 'path', saying he would wait for me at the bottom but I was to go up via the waterfall...

... hindsight is a special thing, and I think as I write this now my legs are buckling at the thought of that extremely steep waterfall walk! Plus, the fact that my Grandad took the normal path up to the water whilst I thought I was stuck midway up a waterfall adds salt to the wound! The waterfall walk was extremely steep, and it didn't help that the terrain was a mix of shingles and fine copper dirt that released a spray of dust with every step I took. As I had been told this was the only path up, I was quite distracted from the amazing views whilst I wondered how on earth I was going to safely walk back down - I imagined it would involve a lot of bum sliding and hoping that my camera would be safe free falling/sliding down the hill on its own! The climb was worth it though when you reached a plateau and could walk right up to the falling water, with rainbows catching your eyes now and again as the water and sunshine mixed together. It was at this point I spotted my Grandad trudging up the main path towards Levers Water despite him saying he will stay at the bottom of the hill and wait for me! Eventually I made my way up to Levers Water (mentally noting how would have much more preferred to have walked up the main path and dropped down to the waterfall clearing that way!) and met my grandad there and we sat on the grass for a while, eating the melted snacks I brought out with me before heading back to his house via the bell and enjoying the shade of the woodland areas behind his house.

ing this route, but there was an influx of people he from Torver jetty walked all the walk fact we toniston. The walk was really enjoyable as I got speaking to a lady with her lovel dogs about cubjects relating to my degree - in acertainly noticed an influx of people the closer I got to Cn people wandering along here, but I rI had plans for my final morning at Coniston, and the weather played ball so I could go ahead with them! My grandad works in Greenodd so on his way to work he dropped me off at Torver Common near the two tarns so that I could walk back along the lake. I'd done part of this walk in winter, which meant that you couldn't walk down on the shore but only the path, so I was looking forward to experiencing this walk with sunshine. After being dropped off, I crossed onto the other side of the road and nipped down to the stream with the cutest stepping stones and bridge across it t get some pictures, surprising a heron who was splashing in the water, not expecting human company! I then crossed over the road and began on the footpath along the lake, cutting under Kelly hall tarn and its neighbouring Long Moss before reaching the woodland area surrounding Tover jetty, and then further onto Coniston. I spent a short while enjoying the reflective views of the evergreen trees on the surface of the warm, blue water. There was not many people taking the same route as me, but as I got closer to Coniston there was an influx of people. One of the highlights of the walk was bumping into a lovely lady and her dogs at Torver Jetty, and waking with them back to Coniston and discussing subjects relating to photography and my degree! It was a really interesting conversation, and as I'm someone who tends to stay quiet to 'strangers' or people I don't know, it was a welcomed change! I decided to carry on when I got to Coniston down to the shore at Bluebird cafe, and grabbed myself an ice cream before heading up the steep Old Man road back to Grandads!

Well, that was a pretty successful rest at Coniston, and I can't wait to stay again!